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Fall 2010 Newsletter


In this issue:

•       New website dashboard launched
•       Announcing the new SISC Project Director
•       Coordinating Council meeting in Denver this week
•       New Human Resources Metric Coordinators appointed
•       Packaging Metrics to be started soon
•       Update on Pilot Testing
•       SISC on the road...
•       ...and in the News!

New Website Dashboard Launched
In response to many good suggestions provided through your response in the April Survey, we are happy to announce a much-improved website to facilitate the collaboration and creation of the Stewardship Index metrics. After logging in to with your email address and password, you will find a dashboard that includes the list of Metric Workgroups, Comments, Messages and Documents all in one window. Go first to the “Help” tab and watch a 6-minute video tutorial to learn how to use the dashboard. Next, decide which metrics you want to follow, and decide if you want Weekly Updates, real-time messages as postings occur, or both. When postings are made to the site, you will receive a message in your email Inbox, which should greatly facilitate the frequency of communication among SISC collaborators. Give us your feedback and more suggestions for improvement by emailing the Steering Committee from the "Help" tab.

Announcing the new SISC Project Director
We are pleased to announce the hiring of Jessica Siegal as the Program Director for the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops. Jessica's background includes six years with Rainforest Alliance, where she worked with many of the business and thought leaders on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture. She holds a masters degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with a focus on food systems. Jessica will be housed at the Ag Innovations Network office in Sebastopol, CA where she will be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day operations of SISC in response to direction from the Steering Committee and the Coordinating Council. Joseph McIntyre will continue to serve SISC as our meeting facilitator. Jessica can be reached at: email:; phone: 707-823-6111; fax: 707-823-6113.

Coordinating Council Meeting in Denver This Week
On September 29th and 30th, the Coordinating Council (CC) of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops will convene in Denver, CO.  Representatives from the Grower, NGO and Buyer stakeholder communities will be in attendance (The agenda is posted in the Documents section on the Coordinating Council page of the website upon login.)  The majority of the agenda will be dedicated to discussing a Framework for Data Sharing Policy. In addition, the CC will consider the SISC Organizational Structure and Policies (also available on the CC webpage) and a Pilot Program Confidentiality Policy and Non-disclosure Agreement for the 100 plus growers participating in this year’s pilot testing of the draft metrics. The meeting will be facilitated by Joseph McIntyre of Ag Innovations Network. Meeting notes and documents will be posted following the meeting.

New Human Resources Metric Coordinators appointed
The Human Resources metric workgroup welcomes its two new coordinators!  Catherine Benoit is a the lead editor of the Guidelines for S-LCA (Social LCA) published by the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative, developer of the Social Hotspots database, and visiting scholar at the University of New Hampshire.  Vera Bitsch is an associate professor at Michigan State University focusing her outreach, research, and teaching program on human resource management in agriculture.  She has been the Director of the State of Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program and has also previously worked at a vegetable farm and a nursery and greenhouse operation in Europe.  Their full bios can be found on the Human Resources metric webpage and you can send them a message through the HR page. Welcome and thank you Catherine and Vera!

Packaging Metrics to be started soon
The Packaging Metric Workgroup will soon kick off its work.  SISC welcomes our two new Packaging Metric Coordinators – Cynthia Forsch and Martha Stevenson. Cynthia is the President of Eco-Logic Strategies, a consulting company focusing on environmental stewardship and social responsibility, and has expertise in packaging solutions.  She was a project lead for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, worked on the Transport Packaging Roundtable to develop alternatives for perishable food product packaging, and spent nine years as the Director of Environmental Affairs for Albertson’s.  Martha Stevenson is an independent consultant with specific content expertise in sustainability, life cycle assessment (LCA), extended producer responsibility (EPR), and environmental management. Previous to consulting, Martha was a Senior Project Manager for GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), where she led development of the Design Guidelines for Sustainable Packaging, the COMPASS® software, and studied policy approaches which encourage coordination of package design with end-of-life recovery technologies.  Cynthia and Martha’s full bios can be found on the Packaging metric web page and sign up for the group can be done on the dashboard.  We look forward to getting this group up and running soon! 

Update on Pilot Testing
There are currently over 100 growers in 13 states pilot testing 8 performance metrics on 18 different crops …and growers continue to signup. Just this week, a grower from Florida decided to join the effort to pilot test the draft metrics. The purpose of the pilot tests are to determine if the draft metrics are practical, meaningful to customers, and useful for identifying opportunities for internal cost-efficiencies. For more background, see the March 31 Memo “Update on Pilot Testing the Draft Metrics.”

SISC on the road…

  • Steering Committee members Hank Giclas, Hal Hamilton and Jeff Dlott were some of the presenters at the April 24 Global Produce Sustainability Conference sponsored by United Fresh in conjunction with their conference in Las Vegas. Hank’s presentation can be downloaded from the SISC website.
  • Steve Balling, Dana Gunders, Andrew Arnold and Jeff Dlott presented the Stewardship Index project to scientists at the Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference in St. Louis in July.
  • Steering Committee member Tim York of Markon Cooperative presented SISC as part of a panel at the Sustainable Agriculture Partnerships 2010 conference in San Francisco on August 11.  The conference was attended by a variety of actors in the supply chain from growers to large multinational brands.  Read the story about the conference.
  • Jeff Dlott and Joseph McIntyre will both be speaking at the upcoming FMI/GMA Sustainability Summit in Arlington, VA on December 6-9, 2010. 

…and in the News.
In case you missed it, here is an Op-ed published in The Packer by Tim York and Jeff Dlott regarding the Stewardship Index, “Getting strategic about measuring sustainability.”

Last week, The Perishable Pundit took up the story of the Stewardship Index including a critique by John Vendeland of Cirrus Partners and an interview by Jeff Dlott, SureHarvest. Read the Steering Committee’s response to the Pundit on the SISC homepage.